|MORE AGRICULTURAL POLICY IDEAS
This article by Alistair McConnachie appeared in the December 1999 issue of Sovereignty.
As Dr. Richard North has pointed out we have to limit imports and be able to apply our own import levies and quotas. For a start, it would make sense to restrict the import of produce which cannot be proven to comply with the hygiene and welfare standards demanded in Britain.
Picture: Integrating the old and the new: Douglas McConnachie, Alistair's father, with "John" at the family farm in Kirkcudbrightshire, raking a field which has just been cut for big-bale silage.
Granting Debt Relief:Matthew Henderson's letter below raises the interesting idea of granting farmers low interest loans, or even a moratorium on debt repayments. To this we could add a moratorium on National Insurance payments.
Subsidies Based on Government-created, Debt-free Money: Here is an idea which is truly revolutionary. David Brown's letter requires examining the whole foundation upon which our economic system is balanced. Since the Bank of England creates money out of nothing and loans it to the government, to be paid back - with interest - by the taxpayer, then the government could simply create its own money, debt-free, without the taxpayer having to pay back anything!
A large injection of such debt-free money into the rural community - through support mechanisms targeted towards a more sustainable programme which; encourages small farms, mixed farming, land fertility, young farmers, farm start-ups, rural employment, local production and distribution networks, organic production, food quality, and projects which protect the environment - would see the overall level of debt in the countryside decrease dramatically. Farming would rejuvenate.
The idea that there is "no alternative" to the present decline of the British farming industry, is not true. There is plenty that can be done to turn the situation around. All that is lacking is the political will.
But surely such policies contravene EU law?
Yes, of course. That is why we'd be better off out of the EU. However, that is not going to happen tomorrow, or even the next day. What we can campaign for, right now, is an Act of Parliament which would enact the necessary policies to save British farming, and which, if properly worded, would expressly over-ride existing EU law. Is this possible? Yes!
Picture: Negotiating the big-bale silage bags.
AN ACT OF PARLIAMENT TO SAVE THE FARMERS.
As the Lord Chancellor said on 3rd July 1996, published in Hansard, Cols 1450-1451, and quoted in a letter which appeared in The European Journal, July/August 1996, p. 28 from the Rt. Hon. The Lord Donaldson of Lymington (emphases added): "It is important to be clear that Community law, including decisions of the European Court of Justice, has authority here by virtue of an Act of Parliament - namely, the European Communities Act 1972, with subsequent amendments to it."
But doesn't the Factortame case, which resulted from the Merchant Shipping Act (1988), prove that the European Court of Justice is ultimately sovereign?
No, the so-called European Court presently enjoys ultimate legal competence, but only because the British Parliament allows it to. Again, the Lord Chancellor: "The Factortame decision rests on the basis that the Merchant Shipping Act had to be read in the context of the European Communities Act, which expressly provided that all other statues should be construed and have effect subject to the provisions giving Community law primacy in our legal system. That was enough, in the absence of a clear provision in the 1988 Act overriding the 1972 Act, to reverse the rule that, in a conflict between two Acts of Parliament, the later takes precedence. Accordingly the English court correctly proceeded on the basis that Parliament did not intend to override Community law in passing the Merchant Shipping Act. It is open to Parliament expressly to override the 1972 Act and, if it did so, the courts would be bound to give effect to this, even though that might be a breach of obligations under the Community treaties."
If a new Act is to override the 1972 Act, what must the wording state?
All that is needed is for any future Act to include the words "regardless of any provision of community law to the contrary and notwithstanding the provisions of the European Communities Act 1972." These exact words are detailed in Michael Shrimpton's Fishing Limits (Amendment) Bill. (A copy is available as a booklet priced £3.50 payable to The June Press, PO Box 119, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 7WA. Tel: 01548 821 402; Fax 01548 821 574)
Therefore, we can pass any laws we like to secure a future for our farmers, providing that we ensure any Act of Parliament purposely over-rides any present Acts of Parliament binding us into EU obligations.
Surely, if we did this, our EU "partners" would have good cause to doubt our commitment to the rest of the EU project?
If we came out of the CAP by this method then we would be "out of the EU" to all intents and purposes, as far as farming policy was concerned. It is incompatible with membership of the EU.
The government will be reluctant to take this step because it knows it would be setting a precedent likely to lead to Britain's complete withdrawal.
It's something worth campaigning for!
Picture: Relaxing work in the warm summer sun.
LETTERS - DEBT MORATORIUM FOR FARMERS
"Labor's debt alleviation policies would take the form of making available to potentially viable properties long term, low interest loans to pay off immediately the crippling high interest short term loans which many producers have been forced to accept from financial institutions and hire purchase companies.
"At the same time a Labor Government will allow a holiday period of up to 5 years for potentially viable farmers as regarding the repayment of principal and interest in order to allow farmers to strengthen their financial position."
He proposed to finance the scheme as follows:
"Labor's long term development policies and reconstruction policies will be financed through the Commonwealth Bank under the best possible terms and conditions which the nation can afford.
"Labor is not tied nor has it any allegiance to the private banking sector and hire purchase institutions, whose operations are based on the normal business of maximising profits and returns to shareholders.
"Labor believes that a lowering of the rate of interest for funds used for the efficient production of commodities, particularly for the earning of export income will assist increased productivity.
"This in turn, is necessary to counter the forces of inflation associated with full employment and growth."
When Labor was elected under the leadership of Gough Whitlam, Dr. Patterson was sidelined and his policy was not adopted. Since then, a further 127,000 Australian farmers have left the land and, of the remainder, 70% are technically bankrupt. All because the debt issue was never faced. Will British farmers go the same way?
The Money Game video is available for £10 made payable to: T.G. Turner, PO Box 105, Oswestry,
DEBT-FREE GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
The Bank of England creates its money out of nothing. Instead of
borrowing from the Bank of England and burdening the taxpayer with the
debt and interest repayments, the government could simply issue its own
money, debt-free, and spend it into circulation via farming
support projects. There would be no need to raise the money via taxes,
or to borrow from the Bank of England, or even to pay it back! This is
explained in The Hidden Truth Behind Frankenstein Foods and The
Dismantling of UK Farming which can be bought for £3.50
inc. p. and p. with a cheque to British Association for Monetary Reform 27 Imberhorne Lane, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 1QX.